Avenue of Fashion Memories
I had a fantastic childhood in this North West Detroit neighborhood. We lived in the University District across 7 Mile Rd. from Sherwood Forest and adjacent to Palmer Woods. Our modern 4 bedroom red brick colonial stood on a tree lined street and had a large backyard. My elementary school was up the street and around the corner. Palmer Park was a quick bike ride away where we held court on the jungle gym, played tag and soared to great heights on the swing set. We also loved ice skating on the pond in winter and playing tennis in the summer. I made frequent visits to Kay’s on Livernois near Curtis for penny candy and other goodies. I bought my first Jackson 5 record at Lee’s Monroe Music on Livernois near 7 Mile Rd. My favorite haunt was S. S. Kresge where I got toys and other cool stuff priced within my kid size budget. I frequently window shopped at Marty Fuerst, where I got my first pair of high heel shoes. Those leather wing-tipped loafers marked my right-of-passage from an adolescent in corrective shoes, to a tweenager sporting stylish 2.5 inch stacked chunky heels. My mother frequently took me clothes shopping at B. Siegel Department Store on 7 Mile Rd., a half block west of Livernois. I remember feeling like a princess modeling fancy dresses under the spotlight on a raised 3-way-mirror platform. We also, shopped for groceries at Wrigley’s Supermarket on Livernois just north of 6 Mile Rd. and ordered Gregg’s Pizza (also on Livernois) just about every Saturday night.
The Avenue of Fashion was a beautiful and exciting place to be, with its well kept tree lined storefronts, window displays showing the latest fashions, busy sidewalks with stylish folk shop hopping and there was always a constant flow of cars vying for parking spots. We got our hair done at New Dimensions hair salon, further north on the avenue, where I enjoyed eavesdropping on the latest neighborhood gossip. During high school, I searched for the hottest styles at my favorite shops Pickwick Boutique, Inside Out, Paraphernalia, Zana’s Place and Chandler’s Shoes. Even though us girls loved mall shopping, the Avenue of Fashion was always our first choice. Over the years, my father purchased several cars from Porterfield Wilson Pontiac/GM and a couple came off the showroom floor. I got my first car, a Honda Prelude, from the Porterfield Wilson used car lot. Back in the day, you could find everything you needed on the Avenue of Fashion and it was a great place to run into or have lunch with friends. Our family did the majority of our shopping in the neighborhood where we lived and that is something I truly miss.
Over the years, there were many thriving businesses on the Avenue of Fashion including, Detroit Bank and Trust, Porterfield Wilson Pontiac, Sanders, S.S. Kresge, Olympic Sporting Goods, B. Siegel Department Store, Belle Jacob’s Department Store, Doubleday Bookstore, Good Houskeeping Appliance Store, Grinnells Music, Sidney Crandall Jewelers, Greenstone Jewelers, Cunningham’s Drug Store, Lee’s Monroe Music, Ranier Bakery, Marty Fuerst Shoes, Hack’s Shoes, Hansel and Gretel Shoes, Learner’s Shoes, Chandler’s Shoes, Raven Gallery, Donald Morris Gallery, LaSalle Distributors, La Bordeaux Restaurant, Skipper’s Table, Ann Sayles Tea Room, Billy’s Delicatessen, Robin Hood Grill, The Little Pancake House, Bakers Keyboard Lounge and later Motown Photography Studio and City School of Detroit.
It’s wonderful that Hatch Detroit is committed to assisting small business owners in setting up shop within Detroit neighborhood business districts. I long for the day when the Avenue of Fashion reflects its former grandeur.
Video Update: Check out exciting new business developments here.